professornana (professornana) wrote,

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bully pulpit

I am the product of Catholic schools. I attended the parish school in my neighborhood from 1st to 11th grade, changing schools only when my mother moved us all cross country for my senior year. I know that my 11 years at Catholic school provided me an incredible education in those years. I am prefacing my post today with this because today is the beginning of Catholic Schools Week. That meant a children's choir at Mass with the readings and psalms being performed by kids from our Catholic school. It was charming as always. And then there came the sermon. My BH squeezed my hand quite a bit during the sermon as he knew how I felt about some of the content. The priest talked about the aspects of Catholic school that public schools cannot duplicate. It seemed, from his perspective, that other schools were godless. I will agree that there are religion classes in Catholic school but I am unwilling to dismiss public education as somehow void of morals and values. But that was a minor point. Father moved on to praise our school's decision to become a STEM school next year complete with some private funding. "Uh-oh," I thought. I wonder who is funding? He went on to talk about the severe shortage of STEM folks. "gee, Father," I thought, "do you read the same blogs and tweets I do?" Apparently not. Then came the coup de grace: vouchers. Guess who thinks they are a good idea. At this point I leaned into BH and whispered that we might need to leave since my blood pressure was going SKY HIGH.

After Mass ended, BH and I talked at length about this issue of vouchers. You see, we live in a parish that has incredible wealth and incredible poverty. There are day labor pick up spots within earshot of the church. And there are folks with multi-million homes not too far further. From our perspective (and we are not alone I know), vouchers take funding from the schools with some of the poorest children (like some of the ones near our parish). There is already plenty of disparity without taking more monies from our struggling public schools.

I want to write a letter to our pastor explaining this, but I doubt it will help matters. But it drives home my irritation that some folks speak out about topics in education without the proper HISTORY. This morning I read a piece about Arne Duncan's comments of late about education (yes, those white suburban moms gain) which included a flippant remark that Katrina was the best thing to happen to Louisiana schools (sort of callous, right?) since it allowed some schools to be closed and charter schools to open. Apparently Duncan doe not read the research about charter schools and their success rates. John Thompson observes, "By now, conservative and liberal educators, in this get-together and in other venues across Oklahoma, say that these idiotic mandates only make sense if the true purpose of reform is privatization of public schools." in this piece for the Huffington Post:

If you recall from yesterday, I had spent Friday and Saturday talking to some of my colleagues in the colleges of education, talking about NCTQ and CCSS and other issues. Here are folks who know the research; they know the history; they know the consequences. And so I will lower my blood pressure today by cuddling with Scout and Watching MY FAIR LADY and reading some classic Little Golden Books. I will celebrate Catholic Schools Week with wonderful reflections about Sr. Melanie, Sr. Anne Marie, Sr. Maria Theckla, and the other scholars who taught me for 11 years. They taught me all manner of things. Certainly they taught me Latin, Physics, English, and content. They also taught me to think for myself, to stand up for what I knew to be right, to speak for others who might not have voices that are attended to. In short, they were model teachers. And my colleagues and friends are just that, too, models of teaching and learning. I watched the progress Paul W. Hankins made today on his remix of Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears. In a little over an hour, I will join Katherine Sokolowski and Colby Sharp for #titletalk. This coming weekend, I will present with Karin Perry, Donalyn Miller, and Cynthia Alaniz. Models all.

So, I end today with a celebration of all schools and what they do. I hope (and pray) that others see what they do and acknowledge the intelligent, caring, and creative people who help a new generation of kids find their voids, find their passions, find their way.
Tags: catholic schools

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